Organ Donation and Transplants

A living donor transplant is a medical procedure in which someone donates part of their body to another individual who needs an organ. Common organs used in such transplants include kidneys, livers and portions of hearts – providing recipients with lifesaving opportunities.

Donors often do so out of a desire to give others a second chance at life and help people live longer, healthier lives. They understand that they must take medication in order to keep their immune system from attacking the donated organ, as well as abstain from certain foods, alcohol or cigarettes.

Donating organs can be done two ways: upon death or while still alive.

As a living donor, your blood will be tested to see if you’re compatible with the person in need of an organ. If so, surgery will be performed and your organ removed surgically and donated. You may receive a tissue-type test to check that the donated organ will “match” your body’s antigens and immune system.

Before any surgery, you must obtain your doctor’s consent and meet other medical criteria. Together, you and your physician can discuss potential risks and how to reduce them.

Your chances of finding a compatible donor depend on several factors, including your blood type, age and where you live. White patients have the highest likelihood of finding an entirely matched donor while African Americans, Latinos, American Indians/Alaskan Natives/Native Hawaiians/Pacific Islanders as well as those speaking languages other than English have the lowest chances.

Those who do not match can be referred to programs that allow proxy donors, such as paired kidney exchange. Through these initiatives, recipients have the option of donating an organ to someone who does not match their blood type and then moving up on the transplant list to receive a fully matched kidney.

Rejection occurs when your body’s immune system mistakenly perceives a donated organ as an alien object and attacks it. This can happen rapidly or over time. An immunosuppressant medication is typically given to the patient to reduce their chances of organ rejection.

Organ rejection can be fatal in rare cases. Fortunately, most patients who receive organs do not experience rejection or other problems as a result of their donation.

Your doctor and the team who transplants your organ will inform you of the risks and advantages of transplantation and how to prepare. They also provide details about what to expect before, during, and after surgery.

Transplantation is a safe and effective treatment for many diseases, but it requires special skills and knowledge in order to ensure the transplant works correctly and your body has enough capacity to support it. You will need to learn how to care for your new organ as well as how to avoid complications like infections.

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